– By KELLEY BOUCHARD

Staff Writer

FREEPORT – The Town Council has chosen two finalists in the search to replace Town Manager Dale Olmstead, who will retire in October after 30 years on the job.

Council Chairman Jim Cassida announced Tuesday that the finalists are James Doar, the town manager of Bethel, and Peter Joseph Jr., the town manager of Lincoln, N.H.

The council will interview the finalists on July 9. The finalists and their wives will visit Freeport on July 12, when each candidate will meet with town department heads during the day.

That evening, each candidate will meet with residents during an informal public gathering at the Freeport Community Center on Depot Street. Joseph will be there from 6 to 7 p.m. Doar will be there from 7:15 to 8:15 p.m.

The seven-member council sought experienced municipal managers for Freeport, which has 7,991 residents and a $9.3 million municipal budget. In the job advertisement, it described Freeport as a tourism and outlet-shopping center anchored by L.L. Bean, with many recreational opportunities, a small-town atmosphere and a high quality of life.

The position drew 38 applicants, 16 of them from Maine, nine from other New England states and 13 from outside the region.

Doar has been town manager of Bethel since June 2009. He took that job after leaving the town manager position in Rumford, where he had worked since 2007. Before that, the native of northern Maine worked in Florida and New York.

Bethel has 2,607 residents and a $2.1 million municipal budget. It is in the Oxford Hills region, near the New Hampshire border and several ski areas, including Sunday River in Newry and Mount Abram in Greenwood.

Joseph has been the town manager in Lincoln since May 2008, according to that town’s website. The Beverly, Mass., native worked previously as an assistant in the town manager’s office in Andover, Mass., and in the town administrator’s office in Peterborough, N.H.

Lincoln has 1,662 residents and a $4.4 million annual budget. It’s home to Loon Mountain Ski Resort and includes parts of the White Mountain National Forest, Franconia Notch State Park, the Kancamagus Highway and the Appalachian Trail.

Bethel and Lincoln have boards of selectmen and annual town meetings.

Freeport residents who attend the public gathering on July 12 may email comments on the candidates to [email protected] eatonpeabodyconsulting.com. All comments will be given to the council.

The Freeport Town Council plans to meet July 19 to discuss the candidates.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]